Members Serving the Public
Beginning June 1, 2017, the Reduced-Fee Program will evolve into the Modest Means Legal Program to give more people the chance to access affordable legal services, and to create more opportunities for attorneys to build or expand their practices.
Under this new program, clients with income of up to 325% of the federal poverty level (FPL) will now qualify, and panel members will be able to charge a higher hourly rate depending on the client’s income.
|Clients with income between:||150 – 250% of FPL||251 – 300% of FPL||301 – 325% of FPL|
|Attorneys may charge up to:||$80 per hour||$100 per hour||$125 per hour|
It is permissible to require payment of a reduced retainer. The Program recommends an amount of $1200 or less, but it is up to the lawyer and the client to negotiate an acceptable fee. We also highly recommend written fee agreements.
Members of the Modest Means Legal Program will benefit by gaining experience in their chosen practice areas while building a client base. Approximately 1,000 reduced-fee referrals are made each year, most of which are family law referrals, followed by bankruptcy, criminal cases where the client is not entitled to court-appointed counsel, and landlord/tenant. You will only receive referrals in your selected subject areas.
There is no membership fee to join the Modest Means Legal Program and no percentage fees are owed on Modest Means referrals, no matter the amount collected.
If you’d like to join the Modest Means Legal Program, please read the Program Description and Guidelines linked below, and then download the appropriate application form.
Since there are three different hourly rate tiers, how will I know how much I can charge the client?
The hourly rate the client appears to qualify for will be printed on the second page of the referral form, right above the eligibility chart.
What if I will be charging a flat fee? How do I determine the amount?
Determine the percentage of reduction between the reduced hourly rate the client is eligible for and your regular hourly rate. Then apply the percentage to your usual flat fee. For example, if the client is eligible for the $100 per hour rate, and your usual hourly rate is $200 per hour, the percent of reduction is 50%. The reduced flat fee should then be 50% of your normal flat fee.
How is client eligibility determined for the program?
Eligibility is determined by the client’s gross household income, liquid assets and household size, which will be listed on the financial eligibility page with each referral. The hourly rate is determined by what percent of the federal poverty level the client’s gross household income (less child support and alimony payments) falls under.
What if I discover more income and/or assets than are listed on the financial eligibility page?
We inform clients that we are pre-qualifying them for the program, and that the final decision is up to the attorney. If you discover more income/assets than is listed on the referral form, and you do not believe they should qualify for the program or should pay a higher rate, send them back to LRS to be re-qualified. You are not obligated to accept any case at any rate that you do not feel is fair. If you believe the client should be charged a higher rate, let us know.
For efficiency purposes, we do not require proof or documentation of income to qualify for the program, but you may request that they bring these items to the initial consultation. If the client did not disclose all income and/or assets in order to obtain the referral, it is not your fault if they have to call us back to be re- qualified.
Can I charge a consultation fee?
Yes. Please inform the client in advance if you require a consultation fee, not to exceed the hourly rate they have qualified for.
How much can I charge for a retainer?
That is up to your discretion upon a review of the client’s case. We inform clients that the average retainer range charged by attorneys through the program is between $800 – $1500 but that it differs from attorney to attorney and case to case.
How much does it cost to join the Modest Means Legal Program panel?
Nothing! No membership fee and no percentage fees will be owed to LRS for cases referred through this program.
Why do I have to fill out another application when I was already a member of the Reduced-Fee Program and my membership is active?
Since the rules are different regarding how much may be charged through the program, we need another signed agreement. Also, filling out a separate application allows you to choose different case types than you chose for the full fee referral service, if you were a member of both.
Do you have a question not listed here? Contact Sheila Vermacy, (603) 715-3235.